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  • A Secret Garden No More!

    A Secret Garden No More!

    Yesterday (Sunday 26th August 2012), the North Mayo town of Ballina opened up its very own “secret garden”. The walled Victorian plot has been restored to its former lush glory as a new urban garden in the centre of Ballina. The project has been realised through the support of Fáilte Ireland and the National Spatial Strategy Gateway in conjunction with Mayo County Council, in an ongoing effort to develop the Jackie Clarke Collection.

    The vast, priceless collection of historical Irish material which was amassed by the late Ballina business man and politician, Jackie Clarke, opens permanently to the public later this year in the bank building itself, which has been re-designed as a new Jackie Clarke Museum by Martello Media.

    The refurbishment of the Museum has been undertaken by Fáilte Ireland and Mayo County Council in an effort to further the development of tourism in the North Mayo destination, and introduce a new top quality visitor attraction in Ballina town. This forms a major part of Fáilte Ireland’s wider destination development plan for North Mayo, which also includes infrastructural development plans for the nearby Monasteries of the Moy, a proposed new food festival for the area centered around Salmon and Seafood, and the inclusion of the area in the larger Wild Atlantic Way Project which is currently at planning stages. To date, Fáilte Ireland has invested €1.5m in both the Building (due to open later this year) and the garden which was unveiled today.

    Yesterday, Mayo County Council, which has stewardship of the collection thanks to the generosity of Jackie Clarke’s widow, Anne, hosted an open day in the garden as part of National Heritage Week. The open day event was a real community celebration with entertainment from local musicians, artists and dancers adding to the magical atmosphere which was savored by visitors on the day.

    The Minister of State with responsibility for Sport and Tourism, Mr Michael Ring TD, today stressed:

    “This garden will be a seriously important tourism attraction for Mayo – drawing visitors from Ireland and overseas into the county. I am delighted with the unveiling of this garden. Mayo punches above its weight in terms of tourism and I am determined that it will continue to do so. This garden will play a big part in that.”

    In keeping with the sensibilities of the late Jackie Clarke’s collection, the garden has been designed to reflect all things Irish. It contains many varieties of native plants, sourced from the Seed Savers Association where possible. Designers of the garden also created willow seats for the youngest visitors surrounded by a wild flower meadow together with an exhibition wall for artists to display their work. They utilized the only found object in the garden - an old roller - as a water feature and also incorporated an outdoor room as an all-purpose space for activities like gardening demonstrations and art classes or simply as a viewing area in wet conditions.

    Commenting on the opening of the Jackie Clarke Garden, Eva Dearie, Client Services Manager for Fáilte Ireland in North Mayo, said:

    ”The Jackie Clarke Collection is a real gem in terms of memorabilia of Ireland’s past and will be of interest to all visitors in and around Mayo North.  Opening the garden of this new visitor centre during Heritage has given a preview of what is to come later in December with the opening of the building itself.  A visitor centre of this standard and quality will attract people of Irish descent and with an interest in Irish history and we would hope that they will stay on for a few additional days to tour other parts of the north of Mayo”.

    ENDS

    For further information please contact:
    Alex Connolly – Head of Communications
    086 7966320/01 8847884

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